5 Awesome Free Things To Do in L.A. This Week

Kirk Pedersen's Tool District Wall, China, 2008, is part of Month of Photography Los Angeles
Kirk Pedersen's Tool District Wall, China, 2008, is part of Month of Photography Los Angeles
Kirk Pedersen

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*Our Calendar Section, Listing More Great Things to Do in L.A.

*5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week

5. See What Develops

Upcoming Events

If it's April, it's the Month of Photography Los Angeles. MOPLA has fast become a highlight of the annual art calendar, combining the concentration of a fair with the sprawl of the city, and involving both lengthy and one-night exhibitions at proper galleries and intriguing pop-ups all over the geographical and stylistic map. One of the most anticipated is the weeklong pop-up presenting Kirk Pedersen: Urban Asia and Susan Swihart: Passing/Outdoors With Jamie Burris. Swihart's color-rich, surrealistic chronicling of a performance work by Burris combines interpretive shooting with documentary intention; Pedersen's takes up the age-old tradition of the wandering street photographer but gives it a decidedly modern twist by examining the visually overwhelming urban environment. (Stalking the world's walls also inspired Pedersen's love of street art and his founding of the acclaimed street- and photo-centric Zero+ Publishing.) The Asian metropolises explored through Pedersen's lens are not the only cities in the world blanketed in thick layers of advertising, commercial signage and expressively aging architecture; but for western audiences, the foreignness of language and cultural vernacular adds to the wonderment -- and the satisfaction of ferreting out the familiar. MOPLA Pop-Up Gallery, 725 S. Los Angeles St., dwntwn.; Sat., April 13, 6-9 p.m.; runs through April 19; free. mopla.org/programs. -- Shana Nys Dambrot

4. How We Got Here

Don't even try telling this to those snobbish New Yorkers, but Southern California in general, and L.A. in particular, are brimming with culture -- so much so that we need an official day to reflect on the awesomeness of both. Hence L.A. Heritage Day, an event that started in 2008 and brings Angelenos food, activities and booths highlighting more than 50-plus organizations dedicated to preserving the city's heritage. That probably includes some you've never heard of. Take the Culinary Historians of Southern California, who hold monthly programs themed around food, with snacks to match (history of peanut butter, anyone?). Since today's event is being held at El Pueblo Historical Monument, you can get schooled with free tours from the Chinese American Museum, Olvera Street and more. And for the kids? Scavenger hunts! Pico House at El Pueblo Historical Monument, 424 N. Main St., dwntwn; Sun., April 14, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; free. laheritage.blogspot.com/.-- Eva Recinos

Berdaguer & Pejus, Gue(ho)st House, Delme(2012) will be at ForYourArt on Tuesday.
Berdaguer & Pejus, Gue(ho)st House, Delme(2012) will be at ForYourArt on Tuesday.
Berdaguer & Pejus/ADAGP, Paris

3. This Is Not My Beautiful House

For Your Art, a space inside a gallery across from LACMA, continues to present eclectic pop-up projects, including the current interdisciplinary group show, DIALOGUES: Los Angeles-Paris/Art-Architecture. For the latest in an impressive run of programs from the Ceci N'est Pas ... initiative, curator Francois Perrin takes a look at L.A.'s French connection through the prism of another crosscurrent -- the conceptual relationship between art and architecture. Among those in this ambitious, cross-disciplinary gathering are some who identify primarily as visual artists (video installation artist and photographer Doug Aitken, sculptural installation artist Pae White, sculptor Alice Konitz), some whose practice is decidedly architectural but who make forays into less functional structural experiments (Barbara Bestor), and many whose work draws equally on aspects of several disciplines (multimedia situationist Fritz Haeg, conceptual omnivore Piero Golia). Many of the artists and architects show work outside the expected genres, with graphics, models, sketches, drawings and other process materials providing deeper insight into their creativity. On view since April 2, tonight's closing reception and panel discussion features a conversation with Barbara Bestor and critic Andrew Berardini, in a very civilized midweek affair appealing to the chardonnay-sipping, boundary-blaster in everyone. Vive la difference. For Your Art, 6020 Wilshire Blvd., Mid-City; Tues., April 16, 6-8 p.m.; free. cnp-la.org. -- S.N.D.

2. Her Milkshakes Bring All the Boys to the Yard

It's been a hectic five years since Seattle chocolatier Autumn Martin founded Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery, a purveyor of organic American comfort desserts (a pleasant pleonasm if ever there were one). As if becoming pastry master at Seattle's Canlis restaurant and head chocolatier at Theo Chocolate, the first roaster of organic and fair trade-certified cocoa in the United States, weren't enough, now Martin presents her new book, Malts & Milkshakes: 60 Recipes for Frosty, Creamy Frozen Treats, which shows you how to make milkshakes yourself without ever having to trot down to the local fast-food dump and subject yourself to its never-ending retinue of culinary atrocities. Can you stand the concept of a booze-infused or a Bacon Oatmeal Raisin Cookie shake? Also, Martin has the metabolism of a laser beam, so she must be doing something right in the building of her apparently deadly dessert treasures. Diesel Books, 225 26th St., Ste. 33, Brentwood; Thurs., April 18, 7 p.m.; free, book is $17.99. (310) 576-9960, dieselbookstore.com. -- David Cotner

1. All That Jazz

Not enough jazz in your day-to-day routine? Spend this Saturday soaking up nothing but smooth tunes at the 13th annual Caltech Jazz Festival. Drawing talent from Caltech, members of the community, the university's Jet-Propulsion Laboratory (yes, they play jazz too) and Occidental College, these jazz bands, which offer shows throughout the year, will treat your ears as you indulge your eyes in the Gates Library patio garden. Bring your own blanket and snacks for the show, which includes saxophonist soloist Kirsten Edkins. Gates Annex Patio, Caltech, 1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena; Sat., April 13, 1 p.m.; free. (626) 395-6811, caltech.edu -- E.R.

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